Dr. Rami Nashashibi
A leader who counters xenophobic misperceptions of immigrants and demonstrate how Islamic spiritual ideals enrich American culture.
Rami Nashashibi was born in Amman, Jordan, lived in Spain, Saudi Arabia, and Italy during his teenage years, and moved to Chicago at age 19. There he earned a B.A. from DePaul University in 1995 and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago in 2010. Nashashibi is a MacArthur Fellow and the founder and executive director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), a nonprofit organization incorporated in 1997 that fosters health and wellness and uses graffiti, calligraphy, and hip-hop as healing forces. IMAN is headquartered on Chicago’s South Side, in the ethnically and religiously diverse working-class neighborhood of Marquette Park—an area that has struggled with high rates of foreclosure, unemployment, and gang violence over the past several decades. Supporting IMAN’s initiatives and services for vulnerable South Side residents is a unique coalition of constituencies—most notably, African American Muslims and Muslim immigrant communities in both low-income urban areas and wealthier suburbs. Through his leadership, Nashashibi has succeeded in unifying them around a shared focus on social justice. Nashashibi has lectured around the world on topics related to American Muslim identity, community organizing, and social justice issues, and he has received many prestigious honors for his work. He has been featured in prominent media publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Chicago Tribune, and in stories on PBS, CBS, and National Public Radio. He has worked with leading scholars in the areas of globalization, African American studies, and urban sociology, and he was a visiting professor of the Sociology of Religion and Muslim Studies at the Chicago Theological Seminary. In 2020, Nashashibi made his debut as musician, songwriter, and executive producer of “This Love Thing,” a soul-stirring album created with musical artist Drea d’Nur. The album’s first single, “Mama Please,” was dedicated to raising the profile of and advocating for Cariol’s Law, legislation that passed in late 2020 to help transform police accountability in Buffalo, New York. With his music, his leadership, and his powerful community activism, Nashashibi continues to counter xenophobic misperceptions of immigrants and demonstrate how Islamic spiritual ideals enrich American culture.
Featured lessonA Legacy of Combating Urban Poverty
“I’ve come to really appreciate a much more integrated way of thinking about the world. In other words, the many things that people talk about as ‘secular values’ or ‘secular causes’ are very rooted in spiritual traditions, and I think the same is true for spiritual values. I think they resonate with what folks of all good conscience probably believe in one capacity or another.”
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